Put Your Best Foot Forward in 2012

A study just published this month in “Pediatrics,” the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, found that kids spend about 70% to 83% of their time in child care being sedentary, not counting the time spent eating and napping. Only 2% to 3% of the time is spent in vigorous activities. Educators know vigorous activity is important to children. But they cited several barriers, including concerns about injuries, focus on academics and limited outdoor space and playground equipment. Research shows that children are more likely to be active if they are given time, space, freedom, and simple equipment (balls, hoops, and jump ropes). “Put your best foot forward” means to embark on a journey or task with purpose and gusto. Make a good start this year by planning and including physical activity outdoors and inside…while also meeting curriculum standards Be a great role model. Encourage and participate with children in physical activity. Adults demonstrate the importance of health and fitness through their actions as well as their words. Let’s get ‘em moving! Here’s how…

1. Go outside and play Shadow Tag: Instead of tagging bodies, the children step on each others’ shadows in this run and chase game.

2. Shadow Freeze: Play lively music and have children move in the open space. When the music stops, children must “freeze” their shadows. How long can they hold their shadows still? When the music starts again the children resume moving.

3. Shadow Dancing: Imitate each other’s movements. “Shadow Dancing Song” by Greg and Steve on “Kids in Motion” CD.

4. Shape Parade: Take your rhythm instruments outdoors and have a parade. Use appropriate marching music. Draw large shapes (circle, triangle, square, rectangle) with chalk on your outdoor surface. Have children march with instruments around each shape.

5. Create a unique movement path by placing Riverstones (AP6226J) or Activity Hoops on the ground. Pretend they are rocks in a river. Get from one side to the other without stepping in the river.

6. Go for a Wacky Walk: Place Movement Spots (arrows, shapes, hands and feet spots) on the ground outside. Make paths for children to go in straight lines, then zig-zag lines, then curvy lines, and then try walking backwards. Place the hands and feet spots in such a way to encourage children to walk like dogs or bears.

7. I Spy: Go outside and take turns saying, “I spy something ______” and then have the children run to that object

8. Include motor skill challenges during transition times. For example, “Let’s jump like frogs to circle time,” or “Please hop on one foot back to your seat.”
9. Snakes: Give each child a Nylon Jump Rope (RPST) and instruct them to place their rope on the ground in the shape of a “snake.” The snakes should all look different. When you say, “walk,” the children are to walk around without stepping on any of the rope snakes. Now add a variety of other locomotor movements as ways to travel around the snakes–tiptoe, run, jump, hop, gallop, skip, walk backwards.

10. One, Two, Buckle My Shoe: Take children outside and have them line up (shoulder to shoulder) facing you. Instruct children to clap and jump on the numbers in the rhyme and then act out the words. Do it in unison.

                        One, two…Buckle my shoe.
                        Three, four…Shut the door.
                        Five, six…Pick up sticks.
                        Seven, eight…Lay them straight.
                        Nine, ten…A big fat hen.

On the word “hen” let children run in a circle counting from one to ten. On ten, they must be back in place to start the rhyme again.

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